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SG-W:/ Fwd: Sanity (There) and Insanity (Here)

As we continue to ponder the impacts of sprawl and our auto-dependent 


---------------- Begin Forwarded Message ----------------
Date:        07/25  6:57 PM
Received:    07/26  10:51 PM
Reply-To:    greendiscussion@yahoogroups.com

 >ENRIQUE PEÑALOSA, YES MAGAZINE - When I was elected mayor of Bogotá and
 >got to city hall, I was handed a transportation study that said the most
 >important thing the city could do was to build an elevated highway at a
 >cost of $600 million. Instead, we installed a bus system that carries
 >700,000 people a day at a cost of $300 million. We created hundreds of
 >pedestrian-only streets, parks, plazas, and bike paths, planted trees, 
 >got rid of cluttering commercial signs. We constructed the longest
 >pedestrian-only street in the world. It may seem crazy, because this
 >street goes through some of the poorest neighborhoods in Bogotá, and many
 >of the surrounding streets aren't even paved. But we chose not to improve
 >the streets for the sake of cars, but instead to have wonderful spaces 
 >pedestrians. All this pedestrian infrastructure shows respect for human
 >dignity. We're telling people, "You are important-not because you're rich
 >or because you have a Ph.D., but because you are human." If people are
 >treated as special, as sacred even, they behave that way. This creates a
 >different kind of society.
 >We began to experiment by instituting a car-free day on a weekday. In a
 >city of about 7 million people, just about everybody managed to get to
 >work by walking, bicycling, bus, even on horseback-and everybody was
 >better off. There was less air pollution, less time sitting in traffic,
 >more time for people to be productive and enjoy themselves. Every Sunday
 >we close 120 kilometers of roads to motor vehicles for seven hours. A
 >million and a half people of all ages and incomes come out to ride
 >bicycles, jog, and simply gather with others in community.
 >We took a vote, and 83 percent of the public told us they wanted to have
 >car-free days more often. Getting people out of their cars is a means of
 >social integration. You have the upper-income person sitting next to the
 >cleaning lady on the bus. . .
 >Since we took these steps, we've seen a reduction in crime and a 
change in
 >attitude toward the city. In the worst recession we've ever had, people
 >were asked to pay a 10 percent voluntary tax to support various city
 >services, including parks. More than 40,000 people did so, which I think
 >speaks to the greater sense of community people feel.
 >If we in the Third World measure our success or failure as a society in
 >terms of income, we would have to classify ourselves as losers until the
 >end of time. Given our limited resources, we have to invent other ways to
 >measure success, and that could be in terms of happiness. It may be in 
 >much time children spend with their grandparents, or the ways in which we
 >are able to enjoy our friendships, or how many times people smile during
 >the week. A city is successful not when it's rich but when its people are
 >happy. Public space is one way to lead us to a society that is not only
 >more equal but also much happier.
CARS. . .
 >UNIVERSITY - Cities can be thought of as the absence of physical space
 >between people and firms. As such, they exist to eliminate transportation
 >costs for goods, people and ideas and transportation technologies dictate
 >urban form. In the 21st century, the dominant form of city living is 
 >on the automobile and this form is sometimes called sprawl. . . Using a
 >variety of evidence, we argue that sprawl is not the result of explicit
 >government policies or bad urban planning, but rather the inexorable
 >product of car-based living. Sprawl has been associated with significant
 >improvements in quality of living, and the environmental impacts of 
 >have been offset by technological change. Finally, we suggest that the
 >primary social problem associated with sprawl is the fact that some 
 >are left behind because they do not earn enough to afford the cars that
 >this form of living requires.

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